5/15/2013 2:00:00 PM Lilly Stepping Down As Dresden Fire Chief
Dresden Fire Chief Gerald Lilly with his dog, Tegie. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
By Dominik Lobkowicz
Long-time Dresden Fire Chief Gerald Lilly is stepping down from his position as of June 30.
Lilly has served in his second stint as the town's fire chief for the last 16 years, and has been a member of the fire department since he was in seventh or eighth grade at Bridge Academy - over 40 years ago.
Lilly said he plans to stay on in the department as a regular firefighter and pass the torch to one of the other members. "It's time to let some younger people take over," he said.
Part of the reason Lilly is stepping down is he is running for second selectman this year, which, if he is elected, would be a conflict of interest, he said. He is also looking forward to spending more time up to camp, and having more free time overall.
"I think it's going to be less time being a selectman than it is being fire chief," Lilly said. "I'm hoping that, anyway."
Lilly and his wife, Susan Bickford-Lilly, have a camp in Ashland where Lilly said he hopes to do some guide work. He is a registered Maine Guide certified in hunting, fishing, and recreation (hikes and overnight trips).
Lilly said he will miss the role of chief once he steps down, but, if he is elected as selectman this year, he will still have a say in what goes on with the department.
"It's not like I'm going to just leave it," Lilly said.
Through his time as fire chief, Lilly said he has seen fires grow to be more dangerous with chemicals and composites now used in buildings. However, more mandatory training, regulations, and meetings to keep the department up to snuff have helped combat that, he said.
Along with expectations from fire departments, building codes have also improved. "That probably makes it safer, [and] you can't argue with safety," he said. He does not recall the department losing any people or firefighters to a fire, or any firefighters even being seriously injured, during his time as chief.
Asked if any particular fires stuck out in his mind, Lilly answered, "They're all difficult." The department always has to worry about having enough water, a truck breaking down, or freezing up during the winter, he said.
During his tenure, the fire department has built a new fire station and replaced all its in-service apparatus except for a 1970 Dodge brush truck, Lilly said.
Lilly said he has never asked for anything for the department that was unreasonable, and has never been refused by the town, either.
"The support from the town that has been given to the fire department over the years has been phenomenal," he said. "It makes the town special, because they've supported the fire department 100 percent."
Lilly recalled a town meeting in the early 1980s when he was trying to get a replacement for a 1952 pump truck. There, a lady spoke out, saying "If you guys didn't use those trucks so much, you wouldn't need another one."
"By God she was right, too," Lilly said with a chuckle.
Asked what Lilly felt his legacy as chief was, he said, "I would hope this is true, that they all realize it's not one person, it takes everybody to make it work."
"Everybody has to work together," Lilly said. "You can have all the equipment in the world, but if you don't have the people, nothing's going to happen."
The Dresden Fire Association will hold a meeting on Wednesday, June 5 at 6 p.m. at the fire station to elect a new chief. Any member of the department can be nominated, Lilly said. The Association elects a chief once every two years, but the selectmen appoint, and the voters confirm, the fire chief annually, he said.
Lilly said he expects his nephew, Assistant Chief Steve Lilly, would be a likely candidate to fill the position of fire chief.